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Do I Have To Separate Before Filing For Divorce?

The last thing that a couple ready to divorce wants to hear is that they have to endure a period of mandatory legal separation before their marriage can be dissolved. Whereas this was once a requirement in New Jersey, this is thankfully no longer the case. Now, a spouse can file for divorce on the no-fault ground of “irreconcilable differences” and can proceed without having to wait. However, this doesn’t mean that a divorce will be over in five minutes. Depending on the circumstances and the grounds stated, divorce proceedings can take three months minimum and up to a year or more in hotly contested cases. The average contested divorce in New Jersey takes 12 months.

If a couple wishes to divorce on the grounds of separation, they must have been separate and living apart for at least 18 consecutive months. This indicates that there are no reasonable expectations for reconciliation and that the marriage should be legally terminated.

Can You File for Legal Separation in New Jersey?

In some states, couples who are not yet ready to file for divorce may file for legal separation. In New Jersey, this is no formal case called a “legal separation” for a married couple, but a couple may still meet with a lawyer to execute a formal separation agreement. Alternatively, a couple may also wish to consider a “limited divorce,” also called a “divorce from bed and board.” Under a limited divorce, the spouses remain technically married and are not permitted to remarry unless they move forward with an actual divorce. If the couple reconciles during their period of separation, they can have the judgment suspended or revoked.

One of the most common reasons that people opt for this arrangement is so that a dependent spouse can continue health insurance coverage provided by their spouse’s employer. Another common reason for choosing a limited divorce is if a couple is opposed to divorce for religious reasons but still feels the need to separate.

Questions? We’re Here to Help.

If you have questions about the requirements for divorce, we encourage you to contact Moskowitz Law Group, LLC. A Bergen County divorce attorney can assess your case free of charge and help you determine how best to proceed with your divorce or separation. Our firm is ready to put our 50 years of combined experience to work for you.